“We will continue to work to reach an agreement,” European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas said in the southern Spanish city of Algeciras in the Campo de Gibraltar region, adding that “negotiations are continuing.”
The European Lifestyle Promotion Commissioner said that in his 30 years of experience in European politics, he had never “liked” setting “dates or deadlines, which doesn’t help with negotiation”.
Gibraltar – whose sovereignty is claimed by Spain – is not included in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that London and Brussels reached at the end of 2020, so a separate agreement is needed on the British colony’s future relations with the European Union.
And the rounds of negotiations that have taken place so far have been going on since last October, when the European Union gave a mandate to start dialogue, setting the framework for the New Year’s Agreement, reached by Spain and the United Kingdom, on December 31, 2020.
This agreement foreshadowed, among other things, the removal of the border fence and the British colony becoming part of the Schengen Area, with Spain as guarantor, since the United Kingdom is not part of this European free movement area.
Schinas declared that the European Commission “is fully aware of the importance of this agreement for Spain, its Andalusian region and Europe”, and that it is “in constant contact” with the Spanish authorities on the development of these negotiations, “which is: it is still ongoing”.
With regard to Morocco, he denied that “political relations have a lot to do with migration flows and also with passenger flows,” adding: “In Europe, we never want to see any kind of exploitation of immigration.”
Schinas called for action to involve all neighbors, “including Morocco, on the basis of trust”. In this sense, he expressed the hope that “the new framework for relations between Spain and Morocco, which has improved significantly, will also have an impact on relations with Europe.”
Spain recently supported Morocco’s proposal for an autonomy plan for Western Sahara.
Relations between the two countries have been in crisis since the hospitalization of Polisario leader Ibrahim Ghali in April 2021, an organization that advocates for the full independence of the former Spanish region in North Africa.
Today, the Vice-President of the European Commission visited the Civil Guard Command in Algeciras, one of the Spanish security forces, where he was received by its Director General, Maria Gámez.
“Spain is doing an impressive job here in favor of a security union for all,” he stressed. The southern side (of the European Union) is one of the areas most exposed to pressure and security challenges.
SMM // JPS
Lusa / end
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